Level converter is an important part of a MFC (Multifunctional Chip) and the
link between the central control units and the MFCs digitally controlled
phase shifter and attenuator (Devlin, 1992; Clifton
and Arnold, 1992). It can be integrated outside of the MFC as an independent
chip and assembled together with MFC as a module, such as introduced by Mazumder
and Isham (1995). This arrangement has the disadvantage of bigger overall
module size and difficulty, specially in the application of phased array radar
T/R module by using LTCC (Low Temperature Co-fired Ceramic) technology introduced
by Xia et al. (2007). On the other hand, it
can be integrated within the MFC which echoes the present trend of microwave
device design of high density integration, such as illustrated by De
Boer and Mouthaan (2000), Ghione et al. (2010)
and Van Vliet and de Boer (2004). The advantages of
such arrangement are less power consumption, smaller in size due to high integration,
lower requirement for system integration. However, it faces the problem of reducing
the control lines have been used. De Boer and Mouthaan (2000),
introduced a 16-bit series-to-parallel converter integrated within a MFC for
the application of a X-band phase array radar system. Total three control lines
are used to control a 7 bit phase shifter and 7 bit attenuator. Nevertheless,
the reducing of the control lines increases cost for the processing with regarding
of the compression in the chip size. A robust LVCMOS (Low Voltage Complementary
Metal Oxide Semiconductor) compatible logic for an X-band 5 bit digital attenuator
and 6-bit phase shifter has been developed by Van Wanum
et al. (2006). It has the advantages of insensitive to process variations,
but it faces high power consumption due to its -7.5 v power supply. Therefore,
a novel design of an X-band level shifter for a 6-bit phase shifter and 6-bit
attenuator is introduced in this study. It has the advantages of smaller in
size, lower power consumption, immune to the process variation and lower requirement
for system assembly.
CONTROL LOGIC DESIGN
In this study the MFC requires control voltages of -2 and 0 v, however, the central control units from the CMOS chip can provides LVCMOS voltages which is 3.3 and 0 v. Therefore, the designed level converter has to have the ability of converting the LVCMOS voltages to the required voltages of -2 and 0 v. The block diagram of the level converter within a MFC chip is illustrated as in Fig. 1.
There are 12 control lines for each of the 6-bit phase shifter and 6-bit attenuator which result a total number of 24 control lines for the output of the designed level converter. Amount of these 24 control lines, 12 of them are used as the complementary part for the phase shifter and attenuator. The definitions of the digitized signals from the analogue signals are shown in Table 1.
As defined in Table 1, when the voltages provided by the
CMOS is in the range of 0-1.0 v, two sets of output voltages can be achieved.
When the output voltage is less than -1.7 v, it represents the digital logic
0 which switches the GaAs switch off. On the other hand, when the output voltage
is greater than -0.7 v, it represents the digital logic 1 which switches the
GaAs switch on. Same to the voltage of the CMOS output voltage between 1.6 and
|| Function of the level shifter
||Designed level converter within a MFC (multifunctional chip)
The circuit design is based on the feedback and feed-forward circuit design
introduced by Van Wanum et al. (2006). The reason
by choosing this circuit design is to avoid the effect of the process variations.
However, the main difference compared with the circuit by Van
Wanum et al. (2006) is that the new development has reduced the power
supply voltage from -7 to -5 v which is more suitable for the low power consumption
Proposed scheme: The overall schematic circuit is depicted in Fig.
2. From left to right, the power supply for the proposed circuit is -5 v.
FET3, FET4 are used to generate the bias voltages for FET1, FET2. FET6 and FET7
are constructed in the differential mode which converts the LVCMOS voltage to
the voltage required by the phase shifter and attenuator illustrated in Table
1. FET2 acts as a current stabilizer which keeps shifted voltage at the
gate of FET7 has a near constant voltage drop compared with Vin.
In order to ensure that the chip design immune to the temperature and chip process
variation, a feed-forward and feedback circuit in the FET1, R6 and FET3 loop
are applied (Van Wanum et al., 2006). For the
purpose of reducing the power consumption of the level converter, the amplitude
of the supply power has to be reduced as well.
|| Schematic circuit of the level converter
Analysis for circuit performances: After designing the schematic circuit, a Montecarlo simulation analysis is performed by using the ADS (Advanced Design Software) tool with regarding the variation of the resistors, temperature and the process variation. The values of the resistors have been changed around ±18% of its real value. The temperature is changed from -40-80°. The process variation is achieved by changing the threshold voltage of all the FET in the same way which is in the range of ±0.3 v. The simulation results are demonstrated in Fig. 3.
As shown in Fig. 3, the horizontal axis shows the input voltage Vin provided by the CMOS chip and the vertical axis represents the output voltages of the level converter, Vout 1 and 2, in which are plotted in Fig. 3. When Vin is less than 1 v, Vout 1 are less than -2.5 v with small linear variation of less than 0.2 v between the maximum value and minimum value; under the same condition, the Vout 2 are at 0 v with unnoticeable changing. When Vin is greater than 1.5 v, the Vout 1 with output voltage around 0 v are observed regarding the different variation conditions introduced in the previous paragraph; and the Vout 2 are all under -2.5 v with variation of less than 0.2 v peak to peak. These results have illustrated the characteristics of immune to the temperature and process variations in this novel design. However, in order to evaluate the effects of the supply voltage regarding the outputs of the level converter, a simulation with supply voltage varies from -5.5 to -4.5 v is carried out in which is shown in Fig. 4.
In Fig. 4, it can be seen that when Vin is less
than 1.0 v, the outputs of Vout 2 are shifted linearly with the changing
of the supply voltage, but there are no effects on the outputs of Vout
||DC simulation results of level converter versus input voltage
with variations of the resistors (±18%), threshold voltage (±0.3
v) and temperature (-40-80 v)
On the other hand, when the Vin is greater than 1.5 v, the changing
of power supply has no effect on the outputs of Vout 1 and the outputs
of Vout 2 are shifted linearly in the vertical axis.
Figure 5 shows the current with respect to different supply voltage. It can be observed that when the supply voltage increases from -5.5 to -4.5 v, the supply current has reduced from a maximum value of 880 uA to a maximum value of less than 600 uA for the range of Vin is changing between 0.0 and 3.0 v. At -5.0 V power supply, the maximum supply current is around 740 uA. This diagram has shown that the decreasing of the amplitude of the supply power is able to reduce the power consumption of the level converter. It leads to the reducing of the power consumption of the overall MFC chip, in which is an important factor in the phase array radar system application. However, the gate voltages for the FETs used in this design have to be considered as well during the choosing the power supply voltage. In the other word, the amplitude of the gate voltages for the FETs cannot be infinitely small with respect to the present process technology.
||DC simulation results of level converter versus supply voltage
from -5.5 to -4.5 v
||DC simulation results of consumption current versus supply
voltage from -5.5 to -4.5 v
REALIZATION AND CHARACTERIZATION
In order to compare with the results have shown in previous section and reference
(Van Wanum et al., 2006), a set of 5-bit level
shifter by using 6 inch 0.5 um GaAs pHEMT technology has been developed and
tested. The stand-alone chip is integrated with the size of 1.3x0.4 mm including
the banding pad to CMOS chip and the testing pads (which are deleted in a MFC).
It is smaller compared with same 5-bit level converter introduced in (Van
Wanum et al., 2006). A photograph of the realized chip is illustrated
in Fig. 6.
In Fig. 6, the upper pads are used to connect the phased
shifter or attenuator in which each pair of them represents a Vout
1 and 2 in Fig. 2 apart from the one at the right hand side
upper corner. The lower pads are used as the Vin in Fig.
2 from the left hand side. This level converter is able to be scaled by
adding or deleting the basic cell with regarding the application. For each cell
the current of 0.225 mA is observed, the bias current is shared by the whole
converter which is 0.5 mA. Thus the total current for the whole 5-bit level
converter is 0.5+0.225x5 = 1.625 mA. Then, the power consumption of a level
converter with 7 bit phase shifter and 7-bit attenuator is derived as: (0.5+0.225x14)x5
= 18.25 mw which is much smaller for the serial to parallel converter with 7
bit phase shifter and 7 bit attenuator of 70 mw introduced in (De
Boer and Mouthaan, 2000).
The temperature variation effects of the level converter are demonstrated in Fig. 7. The temperature is model by using a thermal chamber in the range of -40-80°. The input signal of the testing chip is a squire wave illustrated in Fig. 8. When the input is high level, Vout 1 is appeared as high level and Vout 2 is shown as low level.
|| The 5 bit level converter (size: 1.3x0.4 mm)
|| Level converter versus the temperature (-40-80 v)
|| Input signal for the testing level converter
|| Measurements of level converter versus supply voltage from
-5.5 to -4.5 v
For Vout 1, the variation with respect to the temperature changing is approximately 0.65 v at its peak value in every 10 us time period. In the case of Vout 2, the maximum peak to peak value in every 10 us time period is less than 0.5 v with regarding all the temperature range. The output of Vout 1 and 2 are fit with the logical defined in Table 1.
Figure 9 shows measurement performances of the level converter with respect to the supply voltage variation from -5.5 to -4.5 v. With respect to the changing of the supply voltage, Vout 1 is greater than -0.4 v for high level and less than -1.7 v for low level. It is same to Vout 2, the high level is greater than-0.4 v and the low level is less than -1.8 v.
In this study a novel design of a scalable level converter within a MFC chip for the application of phased array radar system is introduced. The circuit is based on the feed-forward and feedback circuit design. It has the advantages of immune to the process variation and temperature changing. The reducing of the power supply leads to a much lower power consumption, specially comparing with a typical serial to parallel converter used in many applications. It has a smaller chip size compared with the level shifter which is not integrated within the MFC. The testing results have demonstrated that the proposed novel level converter is able to achieve the entire design requirement with respect to temperature and power supply variations. The future work this work is to integrate this design together with a 6 bit phase shifter and 6 bit attenuator within a MFC to evaluate the overall performance of the MFC for X-band phased array radar.